The story

Alfred Hugenberg : Nazi Germany

Alfred Hugenberg : Nazi Germany

We are searching data for your request:

Forums and discussions:
Manuals and reference books:
Data from registers:
Wait the end of the search in all databases.
Upon completion, a link will appear to access the found materials.

Alfred Hugenberg, the son of a Prussian politician, was born in Hanover, Germany, on 19th June, 1865. He studied law in Heidelberg and Berlin.

Hugenberg joined the Prussian finance ministry before being appointed by Gustav Krupp as chairman of the board of directors of Krupp Armaments Company in 1909. He also built up his own business interests and by the end of the First World War owned UFA, Germany's largest film company and several provincial newspapers.

Hugenberg held right-wing views and in 1919 he joined with Hugo Stinnes in establishing the German Nationalist Party (DNVP). The following year he was elected to the Reichstag and soon afterwards became chairman of the party. His substantial fortune enabled him to fund his political campaigns against the Versailles Treaty, Locarno Treaty and the Young Plan.

In 1929 Hugenberg began funding Adolf Hitler and the Nazi Party. He also joined with Hitler to help oust Heinrich Brüning from power in December, 1932.

When Hitler became chancellor in January 1933 he appointed Hugenberg as his Minister of Agriculture and Economics. However, he resigned from office six months later in protest against the Nationalist Party being closed down.

Hugenberg remained a member of the Reichstag but he no longer had any political influence. He also lost control of his newspaper empire when it purchased by the Nazi Party in 1943. Alfred Hugenberg died in Kukenbruch, West Germany, on 12th March, 1951.

1929: Nazis in the Antechamber

ARD, also known as Channel One, is the main state-run broadcaster in Germany. On 7 October it will start showing the third season of Babylon Berlin. In order to prepare the German audience for the third season, ARD has put together a 44-minute documentary which highlights the true political and financial circumstances of the time. Not only is it informative, but it sheds light on a company and person that even Germans who know their own history quite well were not aware of: Alfred Hugenberg and the Hugenberg-Konzern (Hugenberg Corporation).

“… Alfred Hugenberg, who is, among other things, head of Universum-Film-AG (UfA) and the most powerful publisher in the republic, who has bought an empire with the money he earned from the heavy armaments industries. His main enemy: Foreign Minister Gustav Stresemann, who is fighting with great persistence with the victorious powers for compromises in the Young Plan – for a peaceful future for Germany in a united Europe.”

Hugenberg has newspapers and magazines that are owned outright (Scherl-Verlag), and newspapers in which he is a shareholder (Zeitungen unter Beteiligung). His monopoly of the news market is even greater than that of Rupert Murdoch (Note: Babylon Berlin is shown on what used to be Murdoch’s Sky TV, bought by Comcast in 2018). Like Murdoch, Hugenberg also owns a powerful film studio, the largest film studio in Germany, the UFA, which will not only make classics by Fritz Lang and Josef von Sternberg, but will also produce films which awaken nationalist emotions in the masses who have hitherto been faithful communists and socialists, a working class that knows in its gut that it must oppose the oligarchs, and yet, is so easily hypnotized by the simple stories of great German Emperors and kings and heroes that are put on the screen and seem to erase the humiliating defeat suffered by Germany in 1918.

“Hugenberg grieves for the monarchy and fights Stresemann. In return, he also allied himself with the Nazis, made pacts with Adolf Hitler and the Berlin Regional Director Joseph Goebbels. Their goal is a referendum against the Young Plan. In October 1929, Stresemann dies of a heart attack. The democratic parties mourn, Hugenberg and Goebbels rub their hands with glee. When the world economic crisis also reaches Germany and puts Berliners in shock, the anti-democrats see the end of the Weimar Republic coming.”

This is how ARD begins to prepare us for the upcoming season of Babylon Berlin which, if you have not had the chance to see from the beginning, I strongly urge you to do. In my opinion it’s the first really well-produced and directed German series that also has a strong political message which resonates in our time. As happened back in 1929 when the Nazis were in the antechamber of power, so today is the AfD in the antechamber, legitimately elected in many of the poorest districts in Germany, getting serious recognition by the media outlets owned by oligarchs as well as by the state-owned media, and supported by big money from some known and some dark and unknown sources.

De-Nazification was always just a half-hearted process after WW2. It had to look like it was happening in the eyes of the world, but what really happened was that some of the big fish were put on trial, a few of them executed, a few took their own lives, but many more of the big fish were just thrown back into the water, swam away into their familiar hunting and breeding pools and continued to run the industrial and political empires that they ran prior to and during the war.

Nazis or no Nazis, big money people always seem to escape punishment, even if, like Hugenberg, they enable the rise of terrorist monsters like Hitler and Goebbels, or Trump Inc. as have Murdoch and the Trump enablers.

Hugenberg, besides his media empire, was also the head of a political party that sat in the Reichstag, the DNVP, German National People’s Party.

It all began with an organization called the Alldeutsche Verband, the All-German Association that was started in 1891 with the help of, yes, you guessed it, Alfred Hugenberg. It was influential before WW1 and after the defeat in 1918:

“Its approximately 40,000 members belonged to various political parties. Although the number of members was never very large, the All-German Association, not least with the help of its Alldeutsche Blätter (All-German Paper), unleashed lively nationalist and anti-liberal propaganda, and in the process had a considerable opinion-forming effect until the end of World War I.”

Heinrich Claß (Note: the ß has been mostly replaced with “ss” in modern German), the head of the All-German Association demanded the establishment of a “national dictatorship” and – with strong anti-Semitic references – the repression of “foreign nationalism”. Besides all this, in 1924 he was also suspected of taking part in a plot to murder Hans von Seeckt, the head of the armed forces. There is a trial, but nothing comes of it. In 1926 he is once again before the courts because he is suspected of plotting a coup. Of course nothing comes of this either. And later, during the NSDAP domination of the Reichstag from 1933 to 1945, he is seated with the Nazis as a powerless “guest,” like his friend and accomplice Alfred Hugenberg. Neither of these men are considered to be instigators by the allies after the war. In the eyes of allied justice these super-rich enablers are only “followers” who lost their way. They survived the war and died at home in the 1950s.

Sitting L to R: Hermann Göring, Reich Commissioner for Aviation and the Prussian Ministry of the Interior Adolf Hitler, Reich Chancellor Franz von Papen, Vice Chancellor. Standing L to R: Franz Seldte, Minister of Labor Dr. Dr. Günther Gereke Lutz Graf Schwerin von Krosigk, Reich Minister of Finance Wilhelm Frick, Reich Minister of the Interior Werner von Blomberg, Reich Minister of Armed Forces Alfred Hugenberg, Minister of Economics and Food. (Bundesarchiv, Bild 183-H28422 / CC-BY-SA 3.0)

Both of these men, Claß and Hugenberg, started their campaigns for a “pure” Germany early in their careers. Claß started soon after he passed his exams to become a lawyer, in 1894, as a founding member of the Deutschbundes (German Federation), which propagated a “pure Germanism” by excluding ethnic minorities. Under a pseudonym he writes a best-selling history of Germany which goes into a 19th printing, all the way through to the end of the Nazi regime.

Sound and Fury

When films with sound arrived in Germany, there was a huge push-back from journalists, critics and filmmakers like Charlie Chaplin, who wrote articles about how films with sound will ruin the international character of films that conquered the world through facial expression and movement. They were certain films would now become chained through language to national markets and thus lose their power, bringing an end to the industry. But The Singing Fool with Al Jolsen arrives and breaks all box office records. It looks like the future of sound film is secure – if there is plenty of music to be heard! But there is someone who recognizes the potential of films with sound, Hugenberg’s friend and advisor Joseph Goebbels. In his diary for 2 September 1929 Goebbels wrote: “I was surprised at the exceptionally advanced technology of films with sound. … We have to recognize the future possibilities here.” And recognize the possibilities he did.

Again, in his diary entry for 3 September 1929 Goebbels writes: “This Fall a series of decisions will be made. … The war has begun!” Just the other day as he was being interviewed by Tucker Carlson, Steve Bannon declared that the war would begin on 3 November.

Here a transcript of a segment of that interview:

Steve Bannon: … Or here’s what’s going to happen. Donald Trump is going to win the vote on the only day that matters. That’s November 3rd. He’s going to win the real election in the way we’ve done it with secret ballots, with people going into a booth and voting for president of the United States, OK, by that evening, he will be the winner. And what they’re going to do is that between the lawfare they’ve got with eight hundred attorneys under Eric Holder, the mob they’ve got with Antifa and the radical elements of Black Lives Matter, but most importantly, the digital muscle of Facebook and Twitter, they’re going to sit there and they’re gonna not declare Trump the winner.

Tucker Carlson: Huh. And then maybe the real contest begins. Steve Bannon, I’m glad that you came on. Thank you very much.

Steve Bannon: That’s when the war starts.

Tucker Carlson: I’m beginning to think that’s true.

Goebbels knew a war against the enemies of his party was coming. And he was going to use every means at his disposal to make sure his party and his ideas won out. He understood the techniques of propaganda so well that he was able to use them effectively to propel a minority party into the Reichstag and then maneuver it into a position to take over the government, with no small help from the anti-democratic forces led by the likes of Hugenberg and Claß.

Goebbels and his propaganda machine was so effective that it has lasted into today, with TV, social media and even popular bands leading the charge. Old Nazi propaganda films that now have a cult following among the new generation of American fascists are the films of Leni Riefenstahl. Her first major propaganda film entitled Sieg des Glaubens (Victory of Faith) portrays the National Socialist German Workers’ Party (NSDAP) in an aesthetically pleasing documentary. Her biggest international hit, which still resonates today with advertisers and political propagandists everywhere is Triumph of the Will, which won a Gold Medal at the Venice Film Festival in 1935. Day of Freedom – Our Armed Forces also won her a prize, and two films about the Olympics held in Berlin in 1936 earned her a gold medal from the International Olympic Committee. Despite his official support for her film work, she has a tense relationship with the Minister of Propaganda, Joseph Goebbels. Goebbels is skeptical about her friendship with Hitler. There is some obvious jealousy for her skill as a propagandist, and animosity because of her personal relationship with the man Goebbels is in love with.

Leni Riefenstahl, who also escaped justice in Nuremberg, went on to have an unhindered post-WW2 career, even being accredited as a photographer for the 1972 Olympic games in Munich where, as you might remember, there was a terror attack and a botched rescue which cost a number of innocent lives. Eventually Leni even gets an Emmy for a film about her life story and lives out her life in peace and fame until 2003.

You must, by now, have understood that if you are super-rich or super-famous, and you are able to ally yourself with anti-democratic forces who live by the gun and maybe even die by the gun, your chances to prosper and survive will be almost certain, even after a huge defeat like WW2 or the fall of the Confederate States of America. Oh there might be a few sacrificial lambs sent to the slaughter after the fires are spent in order to make it look like justice is being carried out, but somehow or another the rich and famous will continue with their lives hardly disturbed by the temporary bump in the road to their happy and prosperous future.

Follow the link to the original words and an English translation to The Song of the Class Enemy “Das Lied vom Klassenfeind”, which was written by Bertolt Brecht in 1930 (then set to music by Rolf Lukowksy and sung by Ernst Busch). Bertolt Brecht was a German Marxist playwright and poet who devoted much of his work to opposing Nazism. The Song of the Class Enemy was written in that context. Here is the link to the song in German: Ernst Busch – Das Lied vom Klassenfeind:

Born in Hanover to Carl Hugenberg, a royal Hanoverian official who in 1867 entered the Prussian Landtag as a member of the National Liberal Party, he studied law in Göttingen, Heidelberg, and Berlin, as well as economics in Strassburg. [2] In 1891, Hugenberg co-founded, along with Karl Peters, the ultra-nationalist General German League and in 1894 its successor movement the Pan-German League (Alldeutscher Verband). [2] In 1900 Hugenberg married his second cousin, Gertrud Adickes (1868 - 1960). [3] At the same time he was also involved in a scheme in the Province of Posen where the Prussian Settlement Commission bought up land from Poles in order to settle ethnic Germans there. [4] Earlier in 1899 Hugenberg had called for "annihilation of Polish population". [5]

Hugenberg initially took a role organising agricultural societies before entering the civil service in the Prussian Ministry of Finance in 1903. [4] He left the public sector to pursue a career in business and in 1909 he was appointed chairman of the supervisory board of Krupp Steel and built up a close personal and political relationship with Gustav Krupp von Bohlen und Halbach. [6] As well as administering Krupps finance (with considerable success) Hugenberg also set about developing personal business interests from 1916 onwards, including a controlling interest in the national newsmagazine Die Gartenlaube [4] He remained at Krupp until 1918 when he set out to build his own business and during the Great Depression he was able to buy up dozens of local newspapers. These became the basis of his publishing firm Scherl House and, after he added controlling interests in Universum Film AG, Ala-Anzeiger AG, Vera Verlag and the Telegraphen Union, he had a near monopoly on the media which he used to agitate against the Weimar Republic amongst Germany's middle classes. [7]

Alfred Hugenberg - Relationship With Hitler

Hugenberg was vehemently opposed to the Young Plan and he set up a "Reich Committee for the German People's Petition" to oppose it, featuring the likes of Franz Seldte, Heinrich Class, Theodor Duesterberg and Fritz Thyssen. However he recognised that the DNVP and their elite band of allies did not have enough popular support to carry any rejection of the scheme through. As such Hugenberg felt that he needed a nationalist with support amongst the working classes whom he could use to whip up popular sentiment against the Plan. Adolf Hitler was the only realistic candidate and Hugenberg decided that he would use the Nazi Party leader to get his way. As a result the Nazi Party soon became the recipients of Hugenberg's largesse, both in terms of monetary donations and of favourable coverage from the Hugenberg-owned press, which had previously largely ignored Hitler or denounced him as a socialist. Joseph Goebbels, who had a deep hatred of Hugenberg, initially spoke privately of breaking away from Hitler over the alliance but he changed his mind when Hugenberg agreed that Goebbels should handle the propaganda for the campaign, giving the Nazi Party access to Hugenberg's media empire. Hitler was able to use Hugenberg to push himself into the political mainstream and once the Young Plan was passed by referendum Hitler promptly ended his links with Hugenberg. Hitler publicly blamed Hugenberg for the failure of the campaign but he retained the links with big business that the Committee had allowed him to cultivate and this began a process of the magnates deserting the DNVP for the Nazis. Hitler's handling of the affair was marred only by one thing and that was premature announcement in the Nazi press of his repudiation of the alliance by the Strasser brothers, whose left-wing economics were incompatible with Hugenberg's arch-capitalism.

Despite this episode in February 1931 Hugenberg joined the Nazi Party in leading the DNVP out of the Reichstag altogether as a protest against the Brüning government. By then the two parties were in a very loose federation known as the 'National Opposition'. This was followed in July of the same year by the release of a joint statement with Hitler guaranteeing that the pair would co-operate for the overthrow of the Weimar 'system'. The two presented a united front at Bad Harzburg on 21 October 1931 as part of a wider right-wing rally leading to suggestions that a Harzburg Front involving the two parties and the veterans movement Stahlhelm, Bund der Frontsoldaten had emerged. The two leaders soon clashed however and Hugenberg's refusal to endorse Hitler in the German presidential election, 1932 widened the gap. Indeed rift between the two opened further when Hugenberg, fearing that Hitler might win the Presidency, persuaded Theodor Duesterberg to run as a junker candidate. Although he was eliminated on the first vote, due largely to Nazi allegations regarding his Jewish parentage, Hitler nonetheless failed to secure the Presidency.

Hugenberg's party had experienced a growth in support at the November 1932 election at the expense of the Nazis leading to a secret meeting between the two in which a reconciliation of sorts was agreed. Hugenberg hoped to harness the Nazis for his own ends once again and as such he dropped his attacks on them for the campaign for the March 1933 election.

Read more about this topic: Alfred Hugenberg

Famous quotes containing the words relationship with, relationship and/or hitler :

&ldquo Guilty, guilty, guilty is the chant divorced parents repeat in their heads. This constant reminder remains just below our consciousness. Nevertheless, its presence clouds our judgment, inhibits our actions, and interferes in our relationship with our children. Guilt is a major roadblock to building a new life for yourself and to being an effective parent. &rdquo
&mdashStephanie Marston (20th century)

&ldquo I began to expand my personal service in the church, and to search more diligently for a closer relationship with God among my different business, professional and political interests. &rdquo
&mdashJimmy Carter (James Earl Carter, Jr.)

&ldquo Germany will either be a world power or will not be at all. &rdquo
&mdashAdolf Hitler (1889�)

Businessman Buys Nazi Items Plans to Donate to Jewish Group

BERLIN (AP) — A Lebanese-born Swiss real estate mogul said Monday that he had purchased Adolf Hitler’s top hat and other Nazi memorabilia from a German auction in order to keep them out of the hands of neo-Nazis, and has agreed to donate them to a Jewish group.

Abdallah Chatila, a Lebanese Christian who has lived in Switzerland for decades, told The Associated Press he paid some $660,000 for the items at the Munich auction last week, intending to destroy them after reading of Jewish groups’ objections to the sale.

“I wanted to make sure that these pieces wouldn’t fall into bad hands, to the wrong side of the story, so I decided to buy them,” he said in a telephone interview from Geneva.

Shortly before the auction, however, he decided it would be better to donate them to a Jewish organization, and got in touch with the Keren Hayesod-United Israel Appeal group.

Chatila is never going to even see the items — which also include a silver-plated edition of Hitler’s “Mein Kampf” and a typewriter used by the dictator’s secretary — that will be sent directly to the group, he said.

“I have no direct interest whatsoever, I just thought it was the right thing to do,” he said.

Neither Keren Hayesod nor the Hermann Historica auction house responded to requests for comment.

Keren Hayesod’s European director told France’s Le Point magazine, however, that while no final decision had been made on what to do with the items, they’d likely be sent to Israel’s Yad Vashem memorial which has a selection of Nazi artifacts.

The European Jewish Association, which had led the campaign against the auction going ahead, applauded Chatila for stepping in.

“Such a conscience, such an act of selfless generosity to do something that you feel strongly about is the equivalent of finding a precious diamond in an Everest of coal,” EJA chairman Rabbi Menachem Margolin wrote Chatila in a letter provided to the AP.

“You have set an example for the world to follow when it comes to this macabre and sickening trade in Nazi trinkets.”

Would Hugenberg's annexationist plataform for the German Empire be feasible?

So, for the people that don't know Alfred Hugenberg was the the closest you had to a fascist on Imperial Germany. In September 1914 he wrote the "annexationist plan", signed also by another proto fascist Heinrich Class. He proposed that the German Empire should annex directly Belgium and Northern France (he doesn't stipulate which parts of northern France on wikipedia, so let's consider as the areas of the RK north france in WWII). On the east he wanted to push the German borders to annex Lithuania, Belarus and Poland, pushing the Russian border to the times of Peter the great.

This is a map of what he wanted following the instructions from wikipedia:

Hugenberg also proposed a "proto generalplan ost", as he wanted to flood the area with german colonists, but he didn't proposed exterminating their original people's.

So, assuming the German Empire wins the war and somehow the Kaiser listens to Hugenberg and annex all this land directly, could it be feasibly ruled, or it would eventually implode into some form of "Slavic and Romance spring"?

Hitler’s millionaire backers: how Germany’s elite facilitated the rise of the Nazis

Stephan Malinowski tells Rob Attar how a cocktail of naked opportunism and misplaced arrogance among Germany’s most powerful men facilitated the rise of the Third Reich | Accompanies the three-part BBC Two series The Rise of the Nazis

This competition is now closed

Published: September 9, 2019 at 5:05 pm

It was late in the evening of 30 June 1934 when Kurt von Schleicher was disturbed from a telephone call by the arrival of a group of men at his house. According to one account, the men asked for von Schleicher to confirm his identity, and once he had done so – “Jawohl, ich bin General von Schleicher”– gunshots rang out. The man who had been one of Germany’s most influential army generals, and the last chancellor before Adolf Hitler, was dead – killed during the ruthless purge known as the Night of the Long Knives. Killed because it was feared he was conspiring against the Nazi regime that he himself had helped bring to power.

When the story of the Third Reich is told, several explanations are put forward for how a party that gained only 2.6 per cent of votes in the German elections of 1928 was able to establish a radical dictatorship just five years later: the Wall Street Crash, the legacy of the First World War and Hitler’s charisma, to name a few. But one aspect that often receives less attention is the influence of Germany’s elite on the events of the late 1920s and early 1930s. According to University of Edinburgh historian Stephan Malinowski, contributor to a new BBC Two series, The Rise of the Nazis, a small group of powerful actors played a critical role in the creation of the Third Reich.

Boots on the streets

Of course, there’s no denying the importance of the economic collapse in helping to bring down the Weimar Republic. As Malinowski says, the world economic crisis “struck no other country as much as it did Germany, in terms of the economy falling apart: an unemployment rate around 30 per cent, people losing their livelihoods, and their life dreams falling apart”. And while there were many parties on the right and left of German politics seeking to exploit the economic catastrophe, it was the Nazi party that seemed to offer the boldest new direction. “Their voices the sound of their boots marching on the streets the oceans of flags and symbols and standards that they carried when they were marching through German cities and villages – this was all very different from what you would get from the conservatives and the more traditional rightwing parties. All of these parties and their leaders suddenly looked like fossils from a bygone age,” Malinowski explains. “The Nazis were a sharp break from business as usual. And people could see this, they could smell it, everybody was speaking about it.”

By the early 1930s, the Nazi movement was already marked by violence as political disputes were being fought out in the streets. Yet despite this, and the stark differences in style to the existing conservative parties, there was a surprising amount of common ground between the two. “There’s a grey zone between Nazi and non-Nazi, and if you look at the conservative elites, you will find that around 90 per cent of them share close to all the negative aims of the Nazis,” says Malinowski. “What the Nazis shared most with the power elites – be they military, industry, land owners, judges, university professors – is a language of fear, of hatred, of disdain for democracy, for the republic, communists, Jews, trade unions, modern art. It was a broad set of things that they did not want and I think it is important to understand that the basis on which the Nazis and conservatives met was a basis of negativity.”

Disdain for democracy

The conservative elite’s hatred of democracy may seem surprising on the surface, considering they fared reasonably well under the Weimar Republic that replaced the kaiser after the First World War. As Malinowski notes: “German revolution and democracy had been extremely friendly with the conservative elites in and after 1918. The nobility kept their heads, their titles, their properties, their castles, and industrialists their factories.” So why then did the elite share the Nazis’ disdain for German democracy? Malinowski believes part of the answer may lie in democracy’s weak foundations in Germany. “The conservative elites in Britain and France had much more time to build compromises with democracies and parliaments than in Germany. There is probably no other country in Europe that has a higher stability of power than Britain. An observer used to the highly unstable and fragile German conditions might even feel that it was basically the same people running the country since Hastings. Yet the German elite had often been challenged and smashed, exposed to political extremism, war, destruction and revolution: the First World War and the doom of the German empire in 1918 being the most important catastrophe before the Second World War and the Holocaust.

“There was a constant feeling of threat among the elites. And they felt that they were under attack from the communists and leftwing forces. Perhaps the most important element of all is that the elite had to accept political change in 1918 at a time of doom and catastrophe and absolute despair in Germany, which is infinitely more difficult than doing it from a position of triumph.”

In the German federal elections of 1932, amid ongoing economic crisis, the Nazis soared to 37 per cent of the vote – making them the biggest party in the Reichstag, though short of an overall majority. By this stage the Weimar Republic was already gravely weak, with power being exercised largely by members of the conservative elite, acting as advisors to the octogenarian war hero president, Paul von Hindenburg.

Rather than seeking to combat Nazism, the elite hoped to co-opt Hitler, with chancellor Franz von Papen offering him the role of vice-chancellor. “A metaphor these people used a lot – because most of them were noble horsemen – is that they wanted to ride the Nazi movement like a horse,” says Malinowski. “They would use the momentum and the political potential of the Nazi party but still keep it at bay. The idea of ‘framing’ – to control Hitler, to keep him in a conservative ‘frame’ – was the key concept in 1933. And it was a moment of deep misery in the history of German conservatism.”

Yet a coalition with the Nazis that members of the conservative elite favoured was ultimately rejected by Hitler. Lacking sufficient political support to govern, von Papen called another election in November 1932, which again saw the Nazis returned as the largest party, albeit with a smaller share of the vote. With no solution in sight, von Papen stepped down to be replaced by Kurt von Schleicher, but he also failed to create a workable administration.

On 30 January 1933, Adolf Hitler was sworn in as German chancellor by President von Hindenburg, with other options seemingly exhausted. It’s often forgotten now that the new regime was initially a conservative-Nazi coalition, with von Papen (who was vice-chancellor) and other senior figures serving alongside the Nazis and still believing Hitler could be controlled. As Malinowski explains: “Most members of this power elite, in particular von Papen, underestimated Hitler and saw him as you would see a servant. When questioned about the decision [to make Hitler chancellor] by another nobleman, von Papen famously said: ‘But what do you want? We have hired him.’

“Many members of the German elites thought he was going to be the useful idiot who was going to play their games. They thought he could be controlled. And I come back to this metaphor of the horseman riding the horse, except that within three or four months, they discovered that they were the horse and that Hitler was the horseman.”

Fatal misjudgment

Less than two months after Hitler became chancellor, he introduced the Enabling Act that effectively marked the end of democracy and the start of the Nazi dictatorship. Measures rapidly followed that clamped down on political parties, trade unions and, of course, Jews. The elites that had hoped to control Hitler had misjudged him totally. Says Malinowski: “This was a bunch of powerful men overestimating their political intelligence and their capacities, and very much underestimating the technical intelligence of the Nazis and the ruthlessness and brutality with which they were going to dismantle and destroy the state, and use their power against their conservative allies.”

Some of those conservative allies, like von Schleicher, met their end in the Night of the Long Knives of June 1934. This was a time of realisation for the German elite, as Malinowski says: “Now they understood that this monster they had helped create had come to a Frankenstein moment where it could no longer be tamed, and was redirecting its violence against its own creators.”

This was a far cry from how ‘hiring’ Hitler was supposed to have turned out. “The elite had sought to tame political extremism by binding it into the system, softening it, giving it more responsibility. The understanding was that when Hitler and other Nazi leaders were ministers and responsible for steering part of the economy or universities or whatever part of society, they would somehow calm down and react like normal statesmen.

“But this never happened. Hitler never reacted as a statesman in the traditional sense. The Nazis were playing an entirely new game in terms of ideology and of making the unfathomable fathomable. And the killing of 6 million Jews and millions of others in the Second World War can be seen as the darkest part of this.”

In August 1934 von Hindenburg died, to be succeeded by Hitler himself. The last obstacle to total Nazi domination had been removed. But while the elite had been largely sidelined from political power, that didn’t mean they were all suffering under Nazi rule.

Aside, of course, from the many victims of Nazism, the early years of the Third Reich saw the majority of Germans thriving as the country’s economy entered into what looked like a fantastic boom. “Many members of the elites were the great profiteers and beneficiaries of the Third Reich,” says Malinowski. “The many examples of German army officers, armament industrialists or civil servants replacing sacked Jewish or socialist office holders in the state apparatus was just one aspect of this. It is often forgotten that the army, industry, universities and engineering were not necessarily directed and run by ‘Nazis’. They were run by power elites. There was a power compromise between industrialists, landowners, civil servants, academics, judges and the Third Reich, and for a long time it seemed to be going very well.”

So were the elite actually happy with how things turned out? “If you interviewed Germans in May 1945, you would always get the same story, which was: ‘We didn’t know, we didn’t want this, we couldn’t do anything, etc.’ And some people, like Franz von Papen, were tried at Nuremburg and they would say things like: ‘We did not really collaborate, or we just did our duty, or we did not like this but we did collaborate in order to prevent even worse things from happening.’ This is the main lie that conservative elites created after 1945, and it remains influential today.

“During the Third Reich itself, however, I think the views of most Germans were positive. They would say: ‘Well, this is deplorable and we do not like that they are beating up people, or the concentration camp of Dachau, the exaggerations some of them are drunks and they’re not really cultivated these are terrible people…’ But there was a general sense of admiration for what they were achieving. In two to three months, the leftwing parties had been broken the communists and socialists had disappeared the trade unions and parliament had been crushed. The wildest dreams of the conservatives had been exceeded.

“And then, if you go on a few years, Hitler seemed to be achieving everything that he tried. Poland was overrun in no time, and France – where a previous generation had fought for three months to advance 500 metres – was crushed within six weeks. Summer 1940 was an unexpected moment of absolute triumph where Hitler got support from basically everywhere, including most of the German power elites. Of course, you had anti­Nazis. But if we speak about the majority of the power elites, then the story between 1933 and 1941 is one of stable support, and sometimes of enthusiastic support.”

It was only when the war began to turn against the Third Reich that the real rupture between the German elite and Nazism began – a rupture that culminated in the July 1944 von Stauffenberg plot, which was led by conservative officers who were now prepared to risk their lives to bring down a regime that so many of their fellows had acquiesced with. “Heroes, no doubt, but a tiny minority within their own milieu,” as Malinowski puts it.

Almost 75 years from the fall of the Third Reich, the role of the elite in facilitating Nazism remains a live topic. Recently, descendants of the former German royals have been in negotiations with state authorities to claim back their historic property, and the decision could hinge on the extent to which the Kaiser’s son, Crown Prince Wilhelm, may have supported the Nazis in the 1930s. “It seems historians, lawyers and journalists will go back to questions that are still not entirely answered: who was responsible for January 1933 and what was the role of Germany’s elites in this process?” comments Malinowski.

Meanwhile, the far right is on the march again – in Europe and beyond. So what warnings might this history have for us today? Says Malinowski: “The most important lessons of 1933 and the Third Reich are about the dark sides of modernity and the general vulnerability of democracy. It’s a fragile system. Any democracy losing the support of the people will fail and a democracy losing the support of its elites will fail too – especially if these elites are working against the democracy and trying to find an ‘alternative’.

“This was the specific situation of the Weimar Republic, and it is the specific historical responsibility of the German power elites that they never came to any kind of peace treaty with the idea of a republic and democracy before 1945.”

Hitler’s useful idiots: 5 members of the elite who helped create the Nazi monster

The rabid anti-communist: Alfred Hugenberg (1865–1951)

Hugenberg was a major player in the German media during the Weimar years, and became leader of the rightwing German National People’s party in 1928. A staunch opponent of communism, socialism and the Treaty of Versailles, he cooperated with the Nazi party, forming an alliance with them and other rightwing elements in 1931. He initially served under Hitler’s chancellorship and believed the Nazis could be restrained, but was soon dissuaded of that notionas his party was dissolved a few months later.

The Catholic fixer: Franz von Papen (1879–1969)

From a Catholic landowning family, von Papen held senior posts during the First World War. He served in the Reichstag from 1921 as a member of a Catholic political party, and was appointed chancellor in 1932 during the dying days of Weimar. He was later instrumental in persuading Paul von Hindenburg to make Hitler chancellor. Von Papen continued to hold senior positions during the Third Reich, spending most of the Second World War as ambassador to Turkey. He was acquitted at the Nuremberg trials.

The ailing war hero: Paul von Hindenburg (1847–1934)

Born into the Prussian aristocracy, von Hindenburg came to prominence during the First World War, where he was one of the key protagonists of the German military campaign. His status as a war hero saw him elected president of Germany in 1925. Following the collapse of the German economy, from 1930 the government was largely operating under his decree. Re-elected president in 1932, von Hindenburg sought to keep the Nazis at bay but felt compelled to appoint Hitler chancellor in 1933. The aged president offered little opposition to the new regime and died in office the following year.

The enemy of the regime: Kurt von Schleicher (1882–1934)

The last chancellor of Weimar Germany, von Schleicher spent most of his career in the army, until he switched to politics when the republic began to totter. As one of the key figures in German politics after 1929, he helped bring von Papen to power and then succeeded him in December 1932. He tried to make an accommodation with Hitler but was rebuffed and, following his replacement by the Nazi leader, came to be viewed as an enemy of the Third Reich. He was murdered during the Night of the Long Knives.

The captain of industry: Fritz Thyssen (1873–1951)

One of Germany’s wealthiest men during the Weimar era, Thyssen took over his father’s steel and iron empire in 1926. He was an early supporter of the Nazis, providing them with funds and, crucially, working to arrange contacts with other leading industrialists, which ultimately helped fuel their rise to power. Thyssen eventually lost faith in the Nazis and fled the country during the Second World War, before being returned and spending time in the concentration camp system.

Stephan Malinowski is a historian at the University of Edinburgh. His book Nobles and Nazis: The History of a Misalliance is due to be published by OUP in 2020. Words: Rob Attar

The three-part series The Rise of the Nazis – to which Stephan Malinowski was a consultant and contributor – is now airing on BBC Two

The Hugenberg Memorandum

The untitled document below, commonly known as the ‘Hugenberg Memorandum’, was first disseminated by German-National politician Alfred Hugenberg on 16 June, 1933, at the World Economic Conference in London. Hugenberg, with his solidly middle-class Prussian background, his massive media empire, and his web of financial ties to German heavy industry, might seem an unlikely candidate for inclusion on this blog. As an old Pan-German and a leading figure within the bourgeois-nationalist German National People’s Party (DNVP), Hugenberg was typically viewed by communists, socialists, and national-revolutionaries alike as an ossified, backwards-looking reactionary. Yet despite his stolid conservatism, Hugenberg in many respects still represented a particularly radical tendency in German economic thought. Like many Pan-Germans, Hugenberg was an advocate of autarchy as a solution to Germany’s economic woes, promoting vigorous protectionism for German produce, a strict quota system on agricultural imports, wide-ranging debt relief for farmers, and a gigantic expansion of domestic markets by retaking Germany’s African colonies and by ‘clearing’ Slavic land to the east for ‘settlement’. Through Franz von Papen’s influence, Hugenberg in 1933 had been awarded multiple influential positions within the new Hitler Government, finally affording him the opportunity to fulfill his dream as Germany’s “savior from economic misery.” It was for this reason that he insisted on presenting the below memorandum on his personal economic vision to the Economic Conference, despite horrified protestations from other members of the German delegation. The result was disastrous. The Hitler Government at the time was still only months old, and was desperately trying to present a picture of moderation and conciliation to other nations, who viewed the still poorly-armed ‘New Germany’ with deep suspicion. Hugenberg’s memorandum criticizing foreign investment and claiming that the world’s recovery from the Great Depression could only come about through Germany being granted colonial territories in Africa and a free hand to seize land to the east was deeply embarrassing to the government, who were forced to declare that Hugenberg’s statements did not represent official policy. Hugenberg, alienated among his colleagues and with his political reputation in tatters, was left with little choice but to resign from the Hitler cabinet, and by the end of the month the DNVP too ended up being pressured to dissolve itself and to merge into the NSDAP. The text of Hugenberg’s memorandum is reproduced in full below, in part because it represents an excellent example of the radical economic worldview embodied in Pan-German ideology, and in part because of its historical value: histories of the Third Reich and the DNVP commonly reference the document, but very rarely provide substantial quotes from it to inform their readers, much less reproduce it in full.

The ‘Hugenberg Memorandum’
Alfred Hugenberg,
Reichsminister for Economics, Reichsminister for Food and Agriculture

In my homeland the Westphalians and the Frisians are considered to be among the tribes which are least diplomatic and most rustic, blunt, and stubborn. I am a cross between these two tribes. You must therefore have the great kindness to overlook it as a hereditary fault of mind if you do not like everything I say.

Given the situation in which my country finds itself it is impossible for me to try to skip lightly over the gulf of deep problems which are agitating not only us Germans but to an increasing extent the entire Western world, including America. The philosopher 1 who entitled a well-known book Decline of the West thereby pointed prophetically to a danger which appears as a dark storm cloud on the horizon of the world. The government of the country in which this book was written many years ago is today, under the leadership of Reichschancellor Adolf Hitler, fighting the battle against this decline of the West. The esteemed President of this Conference, Mr. MacDonald, 2 has described this danger in other words but with all desirable clarity as follows: “The world is drifting toward a state in which life revolts against hardship and the gains of the past are swept away by forces of despair.” 3 In the sense of this struggle there is a family of nations. Those that belong to it are basically permeated with this feeling: We do not want to lose the courage and the spirit of our forefathers nor do we want to let ourselves be exterminated by the subhumanity [Untermenschentum] growing up in our own nations.

In the hour when the nations of the world are meeting in the hospitable capital of the British Empire there is a serious thought which Germans cannot refrain from expressing: prices, goods, credits, economy, etc. – these are all subordinate concepts in comparison with the concept of the freely creating man, which the Western nations have received from their forefathers. In Germany – you must realize – we are fighting for this concept. We have been doing so for years in the face of death but with an irrepressible will to live. If we should succumb, the other Western nations would succumb with us or after us. If, on the other hand, the world is to be restored to health, it must first permit us to become well again. We are now experts on the illness which this meeting aims to cure. We have passed through and suffered everything connected with this illness. We are fully aware of the possibility of recovery and carry the prescriptions for it within ourselves. Only a couple of simple, great decisions are needed. In reality they are no sacrifice for those of whom they seemingly demand sacrifice. For it is really no sacrifice to give up a poison by which one would oneself be destroyed in the end.

It must be made quite clear here that:

World economy is the coexistence of independent national economies. World economy is the varying exchange of goods between the individual, constant national economies. The world economy can therefore be repaired only if each individual national economy first puts its own house in order. Anyone who believes that the cure for the individual economies can come only from the world economy is putting the cart before the horse. He remains in the same error that first brought the world economy into the condition in which it finds itself today.

What for years was believed to bring well-being, namely the interlocking of international debts, is precisely what brought the individual national economies, one after the other, into disorder. The intertwining of international debts is the main cause of the derangement of all markets and the destruction of the purchasing power of the nations. It had been deliberately forgotten that importation of capital means importation of goods, that the importation of goods means importation of foreign labor, and that interest and amortization payments on imposed and contracted debts are likewise possible only by way of importation of goods and labor. If credits in the form of goods are poured into a non-colonial country, its economy is disorganized. In trying to pay its interest and amortization installments in the form of goods at any price the debtor country avenges itself, so to speak, on its money and lender and on those to whom it owes tribute. The disorganization of the world economy through this development is also the real cause of all the protectionism of the postwar period. This is also the real cause of the currency fluctuations on the international market.

It is therefore natural, and a thoroughly wholesome development, that in all states the tendency is first of all, by satisfying and developing the domestic markets, to free one’s own economy as far as possible from the ruinous consequences of international interlocking of debts. I should like to point out that the last of all countries to take this road was Germany and that she consciously joined the world economic development described above only under the present government.

It is obvious that the above-mentioned trend of development must continue and deepen as long as the sum of the international interest and capital claims exceeds what the debtor countries can pay in deliveries of goods and what the creditor countries can accept in such payments without destroying their own economies.

From this, two things follow:

  1. Only through the recovery of the individual national economies can the world economy become healthy again. Only through restoration of domestic markets will it be possible again to increase the capacity of countries to absorb foreign goods and thereby increase world trade.
  2. That requires a proper settlement of the international debts. There is no way to get around this truth. The settlement of international debts is the first step in saving all the nations concerned.

The following consideration leads us to the same results.

The entire economy is based on one economic principle. That principle is: free exchange of services [Leitungsaustausch]. Free exchange of services means that for every service there must be a corresponding service in return. If that economic principle is violated in any field, the economy finally collapses. If in a national economy any economic sector is forced to produce without an equivalent return, as for example, agriculture in Germany during the last decade, not only that economic sector but the whole national economy suffers. The agricultural crisis and the resulting purchasing-power crisis of the domestic market lead inevitably to an industrial crisis.

The economic service principle is the immutable basic law of economics which no one in the world, no economic or political power, can abrogate without being ruined. The penalty for its permanent violation is national death.

This basic law of economics also applies to the world economy. If one member of the world economy is forced for long to produce without any compensation, not only it, but the world economy, collapses. Neither between independent nations nor internally in a national economy is prosperity in reality based on what one takes away from another by all sorts of expenditures of energy and time, or on what one prevents another from earning, but on the development of all existing forces. One of the most disastrous of errors, which from time to time has dominated the nations, is that a nation can become richer by the impoverishment of another nation.

I fully agree with the statement of Mr. MacDonald:

“No nation can permanently enrich itself at the expense of others. Mutual enrichment is the condition of individual enrichment.” 4

The history of the last 20 years is based on the fiction of the opposite. I shall not cite any examples because I might thereby easily create the impression that I am speaking only as a German and not as a member of this Conference. If it is desired to get out of the world economic depression, then the free exchange of services must be restored in the world economy. That does not mean free trade between the independent nations in the situation described above that can not be achieved by dropping the international customs barriers or by similar means dealing only with trade policy. It can be achieved only by eliminating the basic causes that obstruct and destroy free exchange of services. This again means, however, that the solution of the world economic exchange problem is absolutely dependent on a correct debt settlement. Not only the debtors but also the creditors have a vital interest in this. The restoration of free exchange of services in the world economy is therefore in reality not mainly a problem of trade policy but a financial problem of debts. If the World Economic Conference is to lead to a beneficent outcome, it can do so only by first creating, on the basis of this understanding, the indispensable conditions for healthy trade conditions.

We Germans are now poor devils and have nothing more to give or to lose. But, in spite of all assertions to the contrary, we attach importance to our good name and have at our disposition the experience gained from misfortune. We can only state here what we have learned and act accordingly ourselves. If this knowledge should not as yet be general, we must wait until it is or, in other words, until the nations on whom the matter depends have reached such a state of distress that the same knowledge becomes for them, too, a spur to action. We shall always be mindful of contributing our small share so that action will not come too late.

In order to make the crux of the matter quite clear, I wish to add the following points. The receiving and granting of political credits from nation to nation is an offense against the economy of nations. It would be in the common interest of the world if a sensible agreement were concluded sufficiently early between the creditor countries and the debtor countries making it possible for the creditor countries gradually to obtain their capital and for the debtor countries to pay their debts on tolerable terms. In the future there should be creditor and debtor countries only on the old, solid basis of capital grants for large works of peace. For profitable works of peace a colonial country can have large foreign debts that can gradually be paid off with goods. A country with a developed industry should be granted credit by another country only with extreme caution, unless the credit is regarded only as a way, so to speak, of burning unmarketable commodities, like wheat, for example, in order to relieve the domestic market (which could be done more cheaply and more advantageously for both countries at the place of production). If such mistaken credits are granted, however, and if they are to be repaid, the repayment is essentially the same mistake from the point of view of “world economy” as the grant. It is possible only in the form of goods, on account of which the receiving country must then restrict the employment of its own workers. One of the most elementary social demands from the point of view of any country is that its development and the employment of its workers should not suffer through the exported capital of other countries, that is, through the importation of foreign goods. But there are other periods – so-called boom periods – in which a country’s own workers are fully employed. Those are the periods in which a debtor country with less employment can repay debts to the creditor country in the form of goods.

From Germany’s point of view it would be possible with wise and peaceable cooperation between creditor and debtor countries to take two impartial steps by which Germany could again be made internationally solvent. One of these steps would be to give Germany a colonial empire again in Africa, out from which she would build all over this new continent large works and installations that would otherwise not be constructed. The second step would be to open up to the “nation without space” [“Volk ohne Raum”] areas in which it could provide space for the settlement of its vigorous race and construct great works of peace.

For it is a mistaken viewpoint if one says that the world suffers from overproduction – just as it is a wrong view if one says that the cause of the present distress is to be found in the spread of mechanized operations. In reality we do not suffer from overproduction but from forced underconsumption. The real cause of the present conditions is to be found in the loss of purchasing power, and thereby power of consumption. War, revolution, and internal decay made a beginning in Russia and large parts of the east. This development, instead of being met with healing counteraction, has gradually been intensified to an extreme point by artificial impoverishment of the civilized countries of the world having the greatest power of consumption. This destructive process is in the meantime still going on. It is necessary that it be stopped.ARPLAN Notes

1. A reference to Oswald Spengler.

2. Ramsay MacDonald, Prime Minister of Great Britain (1929-1935) and a member of the UK Labour Party.

3. Hugenberg here is referencing a speech made by Prime Minister MacDonald on June 12, 1933, at the World Economic Conference’s opening session, although it is not an exact word-for-word quotation.

4. Hugenberg again is quoting from MacDonald’s June 12, 1933 speech.

Hitler's rise to power

In early January 1933 Chancellor Kurt von Schleicher had developed plans for an expanded coalition government to include not only Hugenberg but also dissident Nazi Gregor Strasser and Centre Party politician Adam Stegerwald. Although Hugenberg had designs on a return to government his hatred of trade union activity meant that he had no intention of working with Stegerwald, the head of the Catholic Trade Union movement. When von Schleicher refused to exclude Stegerwald from his plans, Hugenberg broke off negotiations. [24]

Hugenberg's main confidante Reinhold Quaatz had, despite being half-Jewish, pushed for Hugenberg to follow a more völkisch path and work with the Nazi Party and after the collapse of the von Schleicher talks this was the path he followed. [25] Hugenberg and Hitler met on 17 January 1933 and Hugenberg suggested that they both enter the cabinet of Kurt von Schleicher, a proposal rejected by Hitler who would not move from his demands for the Chancellorship. Hitler did agree in principle to allow von Schleicher to serve under him as Defence Minister, although Hugenberg warned the Nazi leader that as long as Paul von Hindenburg was president Hitler would never be Chancellor. [26] A further meeting between the two threatened to derail any alliance after Hugenberg rejected Hitler's demands for Nazi control over the interior ministries of Germany and Prussia but by this time Franz von Papen had come round to the idea of Hitler as Chancellor and he worked hard to persuade the two leaders to come together. [27]

During the negotiations between Franz von Papen and president Paul von Hindenburg, Hindenburg had insisted that Hugenberg be given the ministries of Economics and Agriculture both at national level and in Prussia as a condition of Hitler becoming Chancellor, something of a surprise given the President's well publicised dislike of Hugenberg. [28] Hugenberg, eager for a share of power, agreed to the plan and continued to believe that he could use Hitler for his own ends, telling the Stahlhelm leader Theodor Duesterberg that "we'll box Hitler in". [29] He initially rejected HItler's plans to immediately call a fresh election, fearing that damage such a vote might inflict on his own party but, after being informed by Otto Meißner that the plan had Hindenburg's endorsement and by von Papen that von Schleicher was preparing to launch a military coup, he conceded to Hitler's wishes. [30] Hugenberg vigorously campaigned for the NSDAP–DNVP alliance, although other leading members within his party expressed fears over socialist elements to Nazi rhetoric and instead appealed for a nonparty dictatorship, pleas ignored by Hitler. [31]

Hugenberg made no effort to stop Hitler's ambition of becoming a dictator as previously mentioned he himself was authoritarian by inclination. For instance, he and the other DNVP members of the cabinet voted for the Reichstag Fire Decree, which effectively wiped out civil liberties.

Hugenberg, Alfred

Alfred Hugenberg (äl´frĕt hōō´gənbĕrkh) , 1865�, German financier and politician. He was president of the directorate of the Krupp firm (1909󈝾), entered the Reichstag in 1919, and was chairman (1928󈞍) of the conservative German Nationalist party. Control of the Hugenberg combine, a media and finance conglomerate, enabled him to mount a powerful propaganda campaign against Communists, socialists, and the Versailles Treaty. He was a major financial backer of the Nazis, hoping to control them, and a member of Hitler's first cabinet (1933), but he resigned after six months. His party was dissolved, and his combine gradually absorbed by the Nazi state.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

Citation styles gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Watch the video: Hitler Meets Hindenburg Oct 1931 (July 2022).


  1. Ejnar

    I can recommend that you visit the site, on which there are a lot of articles on this issue.

  2. Stillmann

    Bravo, excellent phrase and is duly

  3. Nasr

    What then?

  4. Silsby

    what we would do without your very good sentence

Write a message